The Dodgers selected Dylan Covey from Triple-A Oklahoma City before Wednesday’s series finale against the Twins, adding a fresh arm to a pitching staff that has been taxed in the last week.
The 31-year-old Covey was a starter for Oklahoma City, with a 4.22 ERA in 32 innings, with 28 strikeouts and 18 walks. He’s here to provide length in case a game or games get out of hand, as both Monday and Tuesday did for the Dodgers.
Covey arrived in the clubhouse before Tuesday’s game, but the team opted not to add him after six pitchers combined for eight innings the night before.
“He’ll taxi, then we’ll see how we come out of tonight to see if we need to activate him,” manager Dave Roberts said before Tuesday’s game.
The need became apparently once Clayton Kershaw needed 90 pitches to complete four innings. The final five innings were covered by three pitchers, all of whom had heavy workloads recently. Bullpen usage was so heavy in the first two games against the Twins that Roberts was effusive in his praise for three different pitchers who were pushed past normal limits:
- Phil Bickford pitched a career-high three innings and threw 48 pitches Monday.
- Shelby Miller threw 30 pitches and got five outs Monday, then threw 30 pitches to get six outs Tuesday.
- Justin Bruihl threw 16 pitches in an inning on Sunday, then 20 more in an inning on Monday, then tossed two innings and 28 pitches on Tuesday.
Bruihl is just the second Dodgers pitcher this season to pitch three days in a row, and he’s done everything that’s been asked of him this season, striking out 12 in 10⅔ innings with a 2.53 ERA in the majors.
But baseball can be cruel sometimes, and since he’ll be unavailable for likely at least a few days, Bruihl was the odd man out when it came to adding Covey.
What’s notable is that the Dodgers didn’t simply put Clayton Kershaw on the bereavement list after his Tuesday start. Kershaw said Tuesday night he discussed his plans with Andrew Friedman, and that he’d make his Sunday start in St. Louis.
Bereavement leave stays are a minimum of three days, so the Dodgers would need to place Kershaw on the list by Thursday in order for him to start Sunday. Maybe that is still in the plan, with another pitcher coming to give the Dodgers nine relievers instead of eight for a few days.
Pitchers currently on optional assignment in Triple-A are Andre Jackson, Wander Suero, and left-hander Alex Vesia.
Further complicating things is that Covey’s first action was earlier than even the Dodgers were expecting, as Dustin May exited his Wednesday start after only one inning with right elbow pain, with Covey taking over in the second.
This is also an interesting time for the Dodgers pitching staff as a whole. Wednesday is day six of a stretch of 13 games in a row, and 19 out of 20. May was starting on four days rest in the series finale on Wednesday, and the entire rotation is expected to do the same the next time through.
Dodgers pitchers started on four days rest 13 times in the first 43 games of the season, 30 percent of the time, as Los Angeles often prefers to give its starting pitchers an extra day of rest whenever possible. Last year, Dodgers pitchers started on four days rest 45 times, 28 percent of the season.
Dodgers starters average 5.31 innings per start this season, 11th in MLB and just above the league-wide average of 5.21. Maybe this time through the rotation, starters might not be pushed to pitch as deep while on four days rest. Adding a ninth reliever for at least three of those days could help facilitate that.
To make room for Covey on the 40-man roster, Jimmy Nelson was transferred to the 60-day injured list. Nelson is recovering from 2021 Tommy John surgery and flexor tendon repair. He pitched once in Triple-A on a rehab assignment, but has been shut down from throwing about two weeks ago.
Moving Nelson to the 60-day injured list means the earliest he can possibly return is May 29.